Thirty years before his bid for mayor, Eric Adams was one of the leaders in a fraternal organization for Black police officers when several of its members were implicated in a cheating scandal. When a young female transit officer blew the whistle on her fellow officers, Adams smeared her as a “disgruntled lover” of one of the accused and showed a photo of her in a bikini during a press conference, according to a new report from The City.
In 1991, Officer Lizette Lebron went to Internal Affairs to report that members of the Grand Council of Guardians had received answers to some of the questions on an upcoming sergeants’ exam. Lebron said that Lieutenant Michael Gordon had been asked to create some of the questions for the test, and he ultimately offered answers to Guardians members who were at his apartment to study. Lebron, who was there, refused the offer and later reported several officers to the department.
Adams, a transit officer and the Guardians’ first vice-president, struck back at a press conference, painting Lebron as a jilted lover who made the accusations against Gordon out of spite. “This shows that the allegations made by this officer that Lieutenant Gordon was, quote-unquote, trying to get into her pants, it shows that it was just the opposite. She was chasing the lieutenant and was a disgruntled lover,” Adams said at the time. He and other Guardians also showed a photo of Lebron in a bikini, which Adams said she sent to “entice” Gordon.
Lebron, who hasn’t spoken often about this period in her life, told The City that Adams’s attacks against her “brought me to a dark place.”
Lebron sued Adams and other officers for slander, saying in court papers that the press conference had a “devastating effect on my personal and professional life.” In a 1997 affidavit, Lebron said her career was effectively stalled and that she lost her opportunity for advancement in the department. “My lifelong dream to be a New York police officer was shattered because of the actions of the defendants,” she wrote. Lebron eventually withdrew the suit and later left the force entirely, moving four hours away from the city.
As for the officers she exposed, they were criminally convicted, according to The City.
Adams declined to answer questions from The City, saying only in a statement, “The way we treated Ms. Lebron during that process was wrong, and I regret that it happened. I have evolved as a person, a father, and a leader over time, and I will continue to evolve to improve myself and the city around me.”
“He should regret what he did,” Lebron told The City in response. “They should all regret what they did because I was telling the truth and I backed up what I said. People went to jail.”